Friday, July 11, 2008

Roman ceremonial lance found in Caerleon site

Archaeologists excavating one of the most important Roman sites in Britain have made an "extremely rare" find.

The team digging at part of the Roman fortress in Caerleon near Newport found what they believe is a legionary's ceremonial lance.

Dr Peter Guest said he thought the iron staff, broken into three pieces, was the first of its type found in the UK.

He also believed it was likely to have belonged to a high-ranking commander who was "not to be tampered with".

Dr Guest, of Cardiff University, said: "It's a very unusual find and there's not more than a dozen of them.

"I don't know of any of that type in Britain.

"There are a few at fortresses and forts around the Rhine and Danube, the frontiers of the Roman Empire."

The staff would probably have featured some type of decoration such as plumes, which indicated that the carrier was no ordinary soldier.

He would probably have been on special assignment, perhaps with the legion's commander or other high-ranking member of the Roman government in Britain."

Etruscan tomb uncovered in Perugia

"An ancient Etruscan tomb has resurfaced after centuries underground during the course of building work in the central Italian city of Perugia.

The tomb, which has been preserved in excellent condition, contains
seven funerary urns, the municipal archaeology department said. It is in
the shape of a square and was covered by a sheet of travertine marble,
which had apparently remained untouched since being laid centuries ago.
The tomb is split into two halves by a pillar and there are two benches
running along each side. The funerary urns, which were placed on the
benches, were marked with brightly coloured mythological and religious
motifs. A preliminary study suggests that writing on the side of the
urns probably refers to a family that was called the Aneis. In addition
to the urns, the tomb also housed the remains of a bronze bed and
various pottery shards. The site was discovered during digging work for
a new roundabout in the Strassacapponi neighbourhood on the outskirts of
the Umbrian town."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tombs found at Philippi

Five intact tombs dating to the Roman era were unearthed in Krinides on Thursday by Philippi municipal water board workers while digging for expansion of the local water supply and drainage network in downtown Krinides.

According to archaeologist Thanassis Salonikios, a total of five tombs were discovered, all of them intact, as well as several more tombs that had been opened in the past. Most date back to the Roman era, while there are also finds dating to the Byzantine era. Specific dating, however, will be made following lab studies.

Salonikios, who is overseeing the works, said that there were two probable explanations for such a dense concentration of burial monuments in such a small area: the findings are either a family burial place, given that many of the tombs were found at the same depth, or the site was the center of a crowded cemetery.

Crenides, founded in 360 BC by the exiled Athenian politician Callistratus of Aphidnae in the foothills of Mt. Orbelos (Mt. Lekani, today), was a small colony of the island of Thassos.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Roman "shopping center" found in British dig

"One of Britain's very first shopping centres has been unearthed - a high street that was fashionable 1,800 years ago when togas were still in vogue.

A row of narrow shop buildings uncovered by archaeologists shows that the Romans in Britain had their very own well-heeled fashionistas.

The shop buildings used by the stylish Romans in ancient Britain were uncovered by archaeologists in fields at Monmouthshire, South Wales.

The site, now occupied only by the rural village of Caerwent near Newport, was formerly Venta Silurum - one of 15 major towns in Britain at the time.

Crucially for archaeologist, unlike most of these 15 towns Venta Silurum did not stay important. Instead it declined - and so escaped the demolition, rebuilding and enlargement that have obliterated early remains elsewhere over the centuries.

Archaeologists say the surviving evidence show it was affluent and fashionable in Roman times, with wealthy villas in the suburbs.

A villa with painted walls and mosaic floors among the other finds also points to the town being home to wealthy Romans in the Third Century AD, when Venta Silurum was booming.

Archaeologist Tom Scott described the 44-acre site as 'beautifully preserved'.

Seven trenches were dug at three different locations to uncover more about previously unexcavated parts of the town.

Long thin buildings were also found in several places - believed to be shop buildings on the high street.

Key finds included a penknife hilt of bone depicting two gladiators fighting.

Other artefacts uncovered included coins, glass, ceramics, human and animal bones, lead patches used for repairing, and bits of mosaic.

Mr Scott said: 'This type of town was a "civitas capital" - a civilian town and centre of local Roman government..."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Roman fortress explored in Caerleon (UK)

"Archaeologists from Cardiff University today began excavating part of the remains of the 2,000 year old Roman Fortress in Caerleon, Newport.

Led by Dr Peter Guest, of the School of History and Archaeology, the team of 50 archaeologists from Cardiff and University College London will excavate the remains of a monumental courtyard building in the south-western corner of the fortress.

The building's existence was discovered during geophysical surveys undertaken by staff and students from the University and was investigated during trial excavations in 2007.

This year's excavation will open a large trench over the building, which is believed to be a store-building or warehouse. It is hoped that the excavations will reveal a wealth of new information about the storage facilities, provisioning, and supply of a Legion in Britain."